Another Kind of Ted Talk

I went to see Ted Rall speak tonight at the Amagansett Library. I met Ted some years ago, because I was casual friends with his wife Judy, (we saw each other at yoga). One morning, when we were talking after class, she mentioned to me that they hadn’t been out to a movie in so long. Ted went back and forth between New York, LA, East Hampton and wherever else he was working and Judy stayed home, worked and looked after Eric. It reminded me of my early life as a mother and wife. Wonderful but also hard, lonely years. Their son at the time was maybe three years old. I offered to babysit. And I remember how her face lit up as she accepted my offer for that very night!

He was an adorable smart little boy, who reminded me a lot of my own son at that age: precocious, used to being listened to, funny, lively and we had a nice time. He insisted I stay next to him lying down before he went to sleep. And he took a very long time to go to sleep. I remember being in the dark holding hands with this little boy. Also, opening up their dishwasher to put a glass I had used in it—and discovering the dishwasher chez Rall was used as storage! In it were nuts, legumes and all sorts of dried edibles. To this day that dishwasher full of nuts and legumes, just blows my mind.

Bernie-Ted Rall

I was thinking about all this, as I sat in the basement of the Amagansett Library waiting for Ted to talk. Ted is a political cartoonist. He’s written close to twenty graphic novels—his last book was on Snowden. Probably he’s on the hate list of every right wing organization. But he doesn’t shut up! Or put his pencil down.

People began to file in. I saw Ted. I didn’t bother to go up and introduce myself as the woman who had babysat his son eight zillion years ago, and once had dinner on the beach, but I wondered where Judy and Eric were. A few more people filed in. The room downstairs was filling up with people.

A handsome young lad with very shiny black hair appeared in the doorway, and I immediately recognized him as Eric, the little boy in his pj’s. He was getting tall. And wearing eyeglasses. It’s always poignant and heartbreaking to see how fast these children grow: one minute they want to sit on your lap and read stories, and the next moment they have eyeglasses and long legs, will smoke a joint and kiss someone — in the not too distant future.

Ted was milling around setting up. Eric with his shiny hair was given a place of honor in a director’s chair near the lectern. I saw him adjust his eyeglasses.

Where was Judy? As much as I was interested in what Ted was talking about, I realized, I had come to see Judy, whom I really like, and whom I hadn’t seen in so long.

Ted’s book is about Bernie Sanders. In fact, Ted is the only journalist that Bernie has allowed to write a bio on him. Ted believes Sanders has the possibility of winning not just the nomination, but the presidency as well. Wow! How thrilling! Everyone I know says Bernie has no chance of winning. But another friend –also a journalist—says we should all say Bernie can win, and quit putting out all these negative vibrations. Wouldn’t that be a hoot, to have an honest Abe sort of liberal, Jewish, president who is manifestly not on the corporate feed?

The librarian got up to speak. And still no Judy. Where was she? Had they divorced? Is that why Eric had come in by himself? Is that why Ted placed his son in the directors’ chair because it was Dad’s night out with son and he was fumbling along trying to make it fun?

A woman who I imagined might be a friend of Judy’s was sitting next to me.

“Do you know Judy?” I asked?

“No,” she replied. “I saw her upstairs, though.”

That sounded sort of ominous. I didn’t ask how if she didn’t know her, she saw her upstairs. It worried me.

The librarian was going on, about Ted’s accomplishments: his John F. Kennedy Medal of Freedom awards, his near Pulitzer. I was lost in thought: book signings, how scary they are for the author (at least mine have been); marriage, my own long one, my close friends who have gotten divorced; children, the passage of time… By this point I was more than halfway convinced Judy had flown the coop. Part of me applauded this. Part of me worried about Eric who looked like such a cool sweet kid.

Ted got up to talk. The door opened. And Judy, Ted’s wife, glided in the door and sat down in the only empty chair in the room, the one next to me on the other side.

We gave each other a big hug. She looked really pretty with her hair down, long black hair just like her son. I realized I had never seen her with her hair down.

During the talk, my neck started getting stiff. Apparently the same thing was happening to Judy, we were both doing Namaste with our hands in back of our backs, trying to free the shoulders.

Ted’s talk about Bernie was brilliant. Of course I bought the book. And everybody else should too.

Here’s to marriage!
Here’s to staying together through thick and thin.
And here’s to Ted Rall’s book: Bernie

facebooktumblrmailby feather

All Boy Mani/Pedi

It’s been cold here for weeks. Inside, we’ve been eating lots of soup and outside almost everyone is wearing socks and shoes and the last two days, galoshes due to the lovely el Niño’s. This is a real departure for southern California where everybody walks around in flip-flops.

Today after the torrential showers, the sun came out; I looked down at my grubby hands and feet, and decided since I needed my eyeglasses adjusted after I sat on them, I’d nip into the mani/pedi place up the stairs from Optical Designs on Montana. I think I have mentioned, there are on last count, more than eighteen places to get your nails done and to get waxed on Montana. I remember when there used to be stationary stores and hardware stores. And a nursery when I first moved here. A few blocks South on Wilshire there were even two or three bookstores I can think of. Ou sont les hardware stores, stationary stores and bookstores of yesteryear? They live on in my mind as wispy reminders of a slower, gentler time, when only rich people had cell phones. And sometimes no one could find a person for hours!

All Boy ManiPedi

Most of the mani/pedi places are on the street –but this one, was hidden from the casual passerby, and after I ascended the stairs, when I stood in the door, two men pounced down on me and sat me down.

In fact they weren’t the only guys at the place, there were women workers, but more guy workers also. I spied one following a women into the secret recesses of the waxing room. Wow, things really have changed. By now, I had told my dynamic duo I didn’t want polish; I wanted very short nails and a buff. And they were both working away on me vigorously. It’s altogether different having two guys work on you.

Like everybody else, I’ve read a lot of the articles on the health conditions of the nail workers. How many of the girls and I do mean girls are running away from Johns and trying to live a decent life. And how once they try and live that decent life, they are succumbing to cancer from the fucking fumes of our nail polish.

Yes, since I know, it makes me uncomfortable to get mani/pedi’s much as I like how I look and I always try and get the story of the pretty girls who work on me, most of who come from Vietnam. (First we bomb the shit out of their beautiful country—then we welcome them with open arms only to exploit them and kill them!)

Oddly enough, none of these habitual liberal rants were going through my head as the boys worked on me. The foot boy with his cheese grater was going after every callous on my heels. And the hand guy was buffing, buffing, buffing each nail till it shone.

Did this dynamic dual also wax? One for the armpits, one for the snatch? I did not inquire for fear I would be forced to the back of the salon…

At the risk of sounding tacky, I think about the waxing issue often, since to do yoga on the west side of Los Angeles as often as I do, is to be side by side with the shiniest smoothest certainly the most hairless men and women on the planet. Lots of tattoos but nary a stray body hair –and this is as true of the men as well as of the women.

I guess this has registered with me on both a conscious and a subconscious level, since I wrote a scene in my new novel the other day, where one of the female characters, a very beautiful, trendy marketing person, wants her would -be lover to groom before they have at it.

Later, when the guy has at it with someone else, that someone else is confronted with a better-groomed male than she is. It all works out just fine, but it’s a moment that I’m guessing may be happening more often than we imagine out there in hook-up land.

To be waxed and groomed is to be living in the first world. And most pre- eminently to be living in LA.

Could hairless shiny tattooed, bodies be, along with Mickey Mouse and movie stars, The City Of Angel’s contribution to the zeitgeist?

facebooktumblrmailby feather